BROOKSVILLE — It used to be that cattle lived on the 3,800 acres of agricultural research land spread across northern Hernando County. Then the U.S. Department of Agriculture sold the land to Florida A&M University in 2015, and there was talk of sustainable farming and grape growing.
Now, the Tallahassee-based university may lease 800 acres of that land to Duke Energy, and something new may rise in its fields: solar panels.
A proposed deal would let Duke build a 74.9-megawatt solar energy farm on a piece of the university’s Brooksville Agricultural and Environmental Research Station.
The university’s Board of Trustees will review the proposed lease Thursday and vote on it in March, said Fred Gainous, the station’s executive director. If the board approves it, Duke could spend two years determining the project’s feasibility and another two on construction before opening in 2023, according to a presentation for the board. Then it would pay the school $850 per usable acre — as much as $680,000 — with annual 2.5 percent increases. [click for full article}